Projects

The Quiet Enchanting

Date Exhibited
October 2023
Location
London
Commissioner
King's Culture
Research Partners
Academics of the King's Community

An invitation into a mythic time of glimmering interdependence and ecological abundance. Here, mass disillusionment with the status quo has led to a rewilding of the soul, and city of London.

 

With the support of the team at King’s Culture, and the wider King’s community, we spent a year investigating the knotty complexity of the climate crisis through intersecting lenses of neuroscience, geography, governance, economics and more. Our conversations made apparent the need for positive imaginaries and guiding narrative visions.

The Quiet Enchanting is one such vision: an installation of digital screens and printed artworks that imagine a journey of deep transformation, within ourselves and the city around us. Rather than portray a direct picture of one possible future, The Quiet Enchanting poses questions to invite imaginings and wonder. We ask: How can we rewild ourselves? And, could rewilding ourselves change the world?

From the Great Resignation to the Quiet Enchanting

The Quiet Enchanting draws inspiration from The Great Resignation of 2022. We’ve interpreted this moment as marking a transformation from mass disillusionment with the status quo, and imagined how such a transition might lead to a rewilding of the soul, and city.

Rather than follow the illusory clock time of capital that organises life and labour, the characters of The Quiet Enchanting disavow clocking in and out to re-attune themselves to the cyclical time of the seasons, of celestial bodies and tides, and in doing so, find a new sense of purpose that nourishes mental and ecological health. Recognising their latent power to change the systems, the protagonists listened to the groans of the earth and responded with care and gratitude, freeing the Thames from man made trappings and acknowledging its liveliness, they worked collectively to restore socio-ecological equity.

 

The Story of The Quiet Enchanting

As part of the worldbuilding process, we crafted a short poetic narrative to immerse ourselves in the history, characters, sounds, species and feel of the new-yet-familiar London.

How can we collectively imagine climate positive futures?

Whilst The Quiet Enchanting might appear fantastical, it takes as its inspiration the work and musings of Climate Scientists and academics in the King’s Community. In July 2022, we embarked on ‘Cascade Inquiry’, a research residency and in-depth, deep-listening inquiry wherein we spoke to many King’s professors and researchers from neuroscience to war studies, geography to finance, policy, and more. As well as those further afield – consulting individuals from Greater London Authority, Policy Lab, Tomorrow’s Cities, Centre for Global Lives.

What emerged from these conversations was the acknowledgement that whilst there is no shortage of expertise in specific fields, there lacked the thing that binds these disciplines and ideas together, and brings them into the world through action. How can we collectively imagine climate positive futures? As storytellers we are in a position to do this work of seeding narrative visions that ignite a sense of hope and possibility.

Our inquiry opened up many potentialities to be realised through experiential futures, investigative design, collaborative workshops and mythmaking. And the insights and imaginings surfaced from these conversations laid the foundations for what would become The Quiet Enchanting.

 

A mythological frieze

The mural form of The Quiet Enchanting is in dialogue with the architectural site it occupies. Wrapping around the windows of Bush House we created a mythical frieze – a continuous narrative that could offer a view into transformed worlds both familiar and strange. Research from the King’s Community was re-interpreted into speculative mise-en- scenes referencing pre-modern poetics, pagan folklore, animist societies and belief-systems. In this mythic world, culture and nature are no longer separated, and recognisable landmarks in the London Borough of Westminster have harmoniously adapted for humans and nature to collaboratively thrive.

Interspersed along the frieze, open questions invite imaginings, wonder and pause from passersby:

Impact

The interactive survey adjoined to The Quiet Enchanting has received all manner of musings and inspiring responses to the questions posed by the work.

The Quiet Enchanting is the artistic partner for King’s Policy Institute’s Hopeful Futures research project, and will be the basis of discussion for a Citizen Assembly in September 2024 around positive climate action.

Sustainability statement

The Quiet Enchanting supports King’s Climate and Sustainability action plan, which seeks to accelerate climate research, education and action across the University with the aim of influencing climate adaption and enabling just and fair transitions to net zero. The pedestrianised Strand Aldwych, which transformed one of the capital’s most congested and polluted streets running through King’s Strand Campus, will provide a new ‘creative thinking quarter’ for students and the wider public.

Acknowledgements

Commissioned by King’s Culture, King’s College London

With thanks to Beatrice Pembroke, Alison Duthie, Jocelyn Cheek and Matt Fryer

Superflux Project Team: Anab Jain, Jon Ardern, Camille Dunlop, Isabelle Bucklow, Ed Lewis, Matthew Edgson

Additional visuals created by Tom Hunter, Thomas McLucas and Arko Bhowmik

Graphic Design by Stelios Ypsilantis

Animations created by Cream Projects

Video sound mixing & music created by David Vélez

Production & Installation of panels by SLS Media

AV equipment supplied by GVAV

Press & PR Support by Rees & Co.

With support from King’s Estates & Facilities Team, and Westmister Council

Thanks to Westminster City Council Events and Planning teams

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